Meditations

Salty, Nutty, Gooey, Goodness


I was recently invited to a special event involving Russ and Wendy Kwan Photography, and wanting to increase the likelihood of being invited again in the future I decided to bring along a dessert to share with our hosts. I think it worked, since I’ve been asked to share the recipe.

The tart incorporates dark chocolate, honey roasted peanuts, dark caramel, and Swiss meringue. Basically a lot of stuff I like all brought together in one place.

I like to experiment and mix things up, so the chocolate tart I ended up with is an amalgamation of various recipes. The base recipe for the filling comes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. The sweet tart dough is based on a Tartine recipe. Finally, the tart is topped with a meringue and torched.

This recipe can be made the day the tart is to be served, but most of the components can be made the day before and assembled later.

Makes 1 large 9″ tart.

Sweet Tart Dough (can be made and baked in the tart pan ahead of time)

The Tartine sweet tart dough recipe makes a lot of dough (enough for four 9″ round tarts). Thankfully the dough freezes well so you can use it up over several months. The recipe can also easily be halved to make dough for two 9″ round tarts.

  • 9 oz Unsalted Butter
  • 7 oz Granulated Sugar, preferably organic or cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Salt, preferably Kosher
  • 2 large Eggs (at room temperature)
  • 17.5 oz All Purpose Flour, preferably organic
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla Extract or seeds from 1 vanilla bean

Using a stand mixer and paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and salt until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time until incorporated, then add the vanilla. Scrape down the sides and add the flour, mixing the flour in at low speeds until incorporated. Divide the dough evenly into four rounds and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably over night. (Or freeze for use later.)

When you are ready to cook the dough roll it out out to the desired thickness (try for an 1/8″) and form it into a 9″ round tart mould or a square/rectangular mold of similar size. If the dough tears, use excess to patch up any cracks. Place the lined mould on a baking sheet and place them together in the freezer while the oven is preheating.

Preheat the oven to 325F. When the oven has reached the target temperature, remove the baking sheet and lined mould from the freezer. Evenly prick the bottom of the tart well with a fork, at least 15-20x. Place the baking sheet and lined mould in the middle rack of the oven to cook for a total of 18 minutes, rotating the pan half way through the baking time. Begin checking the tart dough 15 minutes into the baking time, it should be just starting to brown on the surface when it is done. Let the tart shell cool completely.

The tart has two fillings. The first (bottom) is a mixture of salted dark caramel and chopped honey roasted peanuts; the second is a dark chocolate ganache.

Salted Caramel & Peanut Filling (can be made ahead of time and left at room temperature)

  • 1/2 cup Granulated Sugar, preferably organic or cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup Heavy or Whipping Cream, preferably Avalon organic
  • 2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (Room Temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp Salt, preferably Kosher
  • 1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
  • 3/4 cup Honey Roasted Peanuts, chopped

Start by melting a couple of tablespoons of the sugar in a heavy medium sauce pan over medium low heat. Slowly add more sugar, stirring to dissolve, until all the sugar is melted. Add the corn syrup. When the caramel reaches your desired darkness (I let it go until it just starts to smoke, when the colour is amber) remove it from the heat and immediately add the butter to stop the caramel from burning. Be careful when doing this as it will bubble furiously. Once the butter is incorporated add the cream all at once. (You can pre-heat the cream as suggested in the book, but I usually don’t bother.) Place the saucepan back over medium heat and stir until all the lumps are dissolved. Allow the caramel to cool and add the chopped honey roasted peanuts and the salt. Add more salt to taste if you prefer a saltier caramel.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • 8 oz Dark chocolate, preferably 60% or higher (chopped)
  • 1 1/4 cup Heavy or Whipping Cream, preferably Avalon organic
  • 1/4 cup Unsalted Butter (room temperature)

Heat the cream in a medium sized pot until it starts to steam. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir with a spatula until smooth. Add the butter and stir until combined.

Place the room temperature caramel filling into the cooled tart shell first, filing it about 1/3 of the way. Top with the chocolate filling and set aside at room temperature for a few hours to firm up the ganache.

Swiss Meringue (should be done the day the tart is to be served)

  • 3 oz Egg Whites
  • 4.5 oz Granulated Sugar, preferably organic or cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 tsp Salt, preferably Kosher

The exact amount of egg white and sugar can vary as long as the ratio of 2:3 by weight is maintained. (Weigh your egg white first, then add 1.5 times the weight in sugar.) The vanilla and salt are optional, but I find the meringue tastes better with them.

Place all of the meringue ingredients in a mixing bowl, and place the bowl over simmering water. Stir the mixture until an instant read thermometer reads 120 F. Remove the bowl from the heat and whip the mixture on high with a whisk attachment until a stiff peaked meringue forms.

Top the tart with the meringue using a spatula or by piping it. Creating an uneven finish will create an interesting look when the meringue is torched. Finish by carefully blow torching the meringue. The meringue will burn easily so move the flame very quickly and err on the side of caution.

When serving the tart, you can obtain a razor-edged clean cut by heating up the knife with the blowtorch before cutting each slice. The hot knife will cut through the meringue without sticking.

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